A Beginner’s Guide to Waxing for Men
In a survey published in Cosmopolitan magazine, more than 90 percent of respondents, male and female, reported carrying out some grooming of their pubic hair, including waxing. While women are more likely to know the ins and outs of waxing, men may be more unfamiliar.
Waxing, in case you don’t know, is a slightly painful but highly effective technique that leaves skin hairless for weeks at a time. It lasts longer than other hair-removal methods and leads to fewer ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Is it right for you? Let’s find out.
The first decision to make is whether to take on waxing unwanted hair at home or to seek the services of a professional. The genitals are very sensitive, and waxing accidents can be dangerous—think burns, infections and beyond. For this introductory guide, we’ll focus instead on areas that are easier for an at-home wax session, like the chest and back.
Choose the right wax
If you’re new to waxing—or your only experience is from the movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”—you may be surprised to learn there are actually a number of different types: heated soft wax, cold soft wax, hard wax, sugar wax, pre-made strips and more.
Each type of wax is more suitable for different areas of the body. For example, to depilate, or remove hair from, larger, less sensitive areas like the arms and back, soft wax is a good option. For smaller, more delicate areas like your armpits, hard wax would be less irritating. Pre-made strips, cut into small, specific shapes, are great for waxing areas on the face, stomach, hands and feet.
Waxing kits can be purchased in many drug and beauty supply stores, where the store staff can advise you about each product they stock. If you’re buying online, read reviews and do some independent research to pick a reputable, quality product.
Prep the skin
Skin and hair need to be prepared before any waxing session, so be sure to take these steps before you begin:
- Gently exfoliate the area to remove dead skin cells, using a loofah, mitt or scrub.
- Reduce the risk of infection by using soap and warm water.
- Further reduce infection risk by ensuring the area you are waxing in is clean--this can include wiping down countertops you’ll use as a workspace.
- After cleaning the skin, gently but thoroughly dry the area. Wax won’t work if the skin is wet, or even damp.
- Trim hair, although this is only necessary if you are waxing hair longer than three-quarters of an inch.
Time to get your wax on
For waxes that need to be heated, a wax warmer is recommended as a safer option than the microwave. Dedicated body wax warmers used to be available exclusively in professional nail salons, but you can now pick one up online for $40 or less. Test the temperature of hot wax by putting a small amount on your wrist. It should be hot but not painful.
Cold soft waxes and wax strips may not need to be heated, though most require a small amount of warmth; rubbing it between your hands should generate the necessary heat. The best advice is always to carefully follow the instructions that come with your wax or waxing kit.
Once your wax or wax strip has reached the appropriate temperature, apply it to your skin in the direction of the hair growth. Removing the wax strips will vary depending on the type of wax, so as always, carefully follow the instructions. Hold the skin taut, again in the direction of hair growth, and use your other hand to swiftly pull off the wax or wax strip in the opposite direction, against hair growth. Yes, this can be very uncomfortable, but if you want hairless skin, it’s worth it.
Remove any residual wax with wax-removing wipes. Use sterilized tweezers to pluck any pesky hairs you may have missed.
Post-waxing skin care
You may have finished waxing, but you’re not done yet. Post-waxing treatment is important, especially since waxed skin is extremely sensitive. It’s critical you protect it with something that is both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Your waxing kit may come with such a product. If not, tea tree oil is a popular choice.
Beginning on day two post-wax you’ll want to gently exfoliate the skin to prevent ingrowns. As new hairs start to poke up, they may get trapped under the skin and become ingrown hairs. This is especially common for men with thicker and especially curly hair. Exfoliating gently in the shower with a loofah, mitt or scrub can prevent any ingrown catastrophes and keep your skin looking hair-free, happy and smooth.